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A Trans Perspective on Going Back to College

I am posting this on behalf of a dear friend who wishes to remain anonymous. This short post was written for submission to the scholarship Transgender First to "raise awareness for the issues facing transgender students today." #TransgenderFirst


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"Being a full-time, non-traditional transfer student carries its own complications, but my experience as a trans individual is even more so as I can expect no support—financial or otherwise—from my family. The forms of emotional and verbal violence I have come to endure from them–including purposefully and frequently mis-naming and gendering me even after I correct them, avoiding me at events I am pressured into attending and still refusing to acknowledge my five-year relationship with my partner–have resulted in me making the painful yet necessary decision to cut ties completely. The situation has been exacerbated by the fact that I have decided to further my education, as they believe that education is a form of indoctrination and that financial success and money cannot be found in academia. I was incredibly close with my family growing up, my mother especially. Pre-transition, we would speak once a week for hours; now, we have not spoken on the phone for over a year. Therapy services have been an invaluable asset to working through these heavy changes in my life–in college, finding (and affording) a therapist who can not only relate to my identity but the external stressors that come with being trans will be crucial.


This is but one example of how my transness presents unique difficulties: where my parents could easily ignore my queerness when I identified as cis, but they have grown hostile and more bold with their comments towards my appearance now that I have visibly transitioned. Beginning the process of applying for school, other challenges have arisen that would not have been a hurdle before my transition. The largest is finding housing accommodations inside the school system. Many of the schools I have visited, provide gendered housing accommodations which I cannot take part in as a non-binary identifying individual. Losing my job provided health insurance also means my hormones and yearly required labs for levels will increase in cost if covered at all. Thus, access to gender affirming care, appropriate housing and continued monitoring of testosterone levels will produce more out-of-pocket costs for me than for cis individuals. 


While the school I have selected to attend was kind and attentive during my visit, the small, liberal arts college currently does not have a formal Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion department that might adequately address issues of inequality–appropriate access to gender neutral bathrooms, intramural sports free of gender bias, for example–to the fore. Most certainly, this school’s focus on teaching and its high level of student-professor interactions will help me achieve my academic goals, making it the best choice for me in a professional sense, I must endure what I consider problematic gaps in their ability to achieve a sense of belonging and safety for all its students. This will be another cost for me that cis students will not confront– this time a psychological cost, and an emotional one."

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Thanks for visiting my website, and welcome to my blog. I hope to share ideas about my work, things I'm reading, and other intellectual things, but also share my profound love of poetry, art, pottery,

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